Ohio GOP nominee for Congress Rich Iott likes to dress up as a Nazi officer and run around with other weirdos in the woods on weekends. But don't worry, he has only a "purely historical interest in World War II."
Iott is running for Congress and hopes to represent Ohio's 9th District in Washington next year. He's a Tea Partier, and he also happens to be a WW2 re-enactor in a group called Wiking, which relives the battles fought by Germany's 5th SS Panzer Division Wiking. The Atlantic's Joshua Green caught up with Iott and asked him why he likes to dress up as a Waffen SS officer and play with other adult men in costumes:
I've always been fascinated by the fact that here was a relatively small country that from a strictly military point of view accomplished incredible things. I mean, they took over most of Europe and Russia, and it really took the combined effort of the free world to defeat them. From a purely historical military point of view, that's incredible."
Yeah, that's pretty incredible alright. Iott told The Atlantic that he initially joined Wiking "as a father-son bonding thing." And he even had a nom de guerre, Reinhard Pferdmann, to make his war criminal role playing even more authentic.
What do actual historians say about Wiking, and the SS unit they re-enact? Retired professor Charles W. Sydnor, Jr. told the magazine, "These guys don't know their history. They have a sanitized, romanticized view of what occurred." No kidding! He added, "If you were to put on an SS uniform in Germany today, you'd be arrested."